Paul Zeigler Pianist/Composer/Teacher and New Resident on the Block Paul Zeigler moved to the block in March 2015 from East 78 Street with his husband, retired doctor Larry Stern. Giving up a much used terrace at their former residence, they see the joy in living near Riverside Park. Larry has joined the board of the block association, and Paul will give a talk on Beethoven’s early and mid-career sonatas for BAiP [Bloomingdale Aging in Place] in late April either at a public location to be announced or in his apartment at 315 Riverside Drive. He has a longtime interest in Beethoven’s sonatas and is looking ahead to a second and possibly a third talk on his later work.
Over the past forty years, Paul has performed widely as a pianist and been a piano teacher of many students. He has given equal attention to composing, especially of “art songs,” for which he has a strong passion. Born in 1954 and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Paul did not begin to play the piano until the age of sixteen. That occurred when he decided to teach himself to play the theme song “Romeo and Juliet” from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film Romeo and Juliet. Paul soon began to take lessons and advanced so rapidly that he was composing after only one month. His first teacher encouraged him to move on after a short time to a respected pianist/ composer in York, Wells Gemberling, with whom Paul studied for thirteen years. He went on to work with another notable pianist/composer, Harold Zabrack, for eleven years, at Zabrack’s studios in Princeton and West New York, New Jersey. Paul also took courses in theory and in composition at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore from 1974 to 1977.
By the age of twenty-one, Paul himself was teaching students privately in Baltimore, York, and New Jersey. He moved from York to New Jersey in 1992 and continued his private teaching. When Paul met Larry, he expanded his teaching to include Manhattan and Brooklyn, all the while commuting daily to his studio in Madison, New Jersey. In his and Larry’s apartment, he is still seeing a few private students in his very pleasant music studio with two pianos, artwork with music-related subject matter, and books. Paul and Larry met in 2000, held a commitment ceremony in 2004, and were married in 2014.
Paul’s career as a performer has had many highlights. In 1986, he won first place at the Young Keyboard Artists International Piano Competition, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and, in 2002, he took second place at the Bartok–Kabelevsky–Prokofiev International Piano Competition, Radford University, Virginia.
Paul’s compositions include piano solos, ensemble sonatas, concerti, songs, and chamber music. In May 2013, his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.1 premiered with the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey [BONJ], with Maestro Robert W. Butts conducting.
In addition to his many concerti and solo performances, Paul also enjoys being a player of chamber music. In a review of an August 2014 performance of Dvorak’s Quintet in A at the BONJ’s Summer Chamber Music Festival, Paul’s playing was described by the NJ Arts Maven as having “breathtaking precision and passion.”
Paul’s art songs involve works for voice and piano using poems, including ones by e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Rainer Marie Rilke, and Langston Hughes. In 2008, Paul’s composition Peace: A Song Cycle on Five Poems by Langston Hughes was a finalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Composition Competition [NATS], and his song cycle Astonishing Light: Six Songs on Poems by Hafiz won the NATS 2nd place in 2013. Paul tries to have his vocal lines feel like the natural movement of the poetry. In his song cycles, he allows a loose structure in which each song can be independent; however, he also unites them with related motivic and harmonic elements.
Paul’s five CDs date from 2003 to the present. All of them, with titles below, are available on his website paulziegler.com.
- Beethoven: Three Sonatas, Pathétique, Moonlight and Appassionata
- To Music and Other Original Works by Paul Zeigler, with Patricia Ruggles, mezzo soprano; Janet Vidovich, clarinet; and Mitchell Vines, piano
- Brahms: Sonata in F minor, Liszt: Sonata in B minor
- Peace, with Diane Gold Toulson, flute; Patricia Ruggles, mezzo soprano; Renée Jolles, violin; and Paul Zeigler. This includes Peace: A Song Cycle on Five Poems by Langston Hughes, Paul’s Sonata for Flute and Piano, and his collaboration with the world-renowned Jolles performing his Sonata for Violin and Piano.
- Love…Light…Peace, Songs by Paul Zeigler, with Patricia Ruggles, mezzo soprano
The latter has just come out and contains all of Paul’s art songs, including Astonishing Light: Six Songs on Poems by Hafiz. Paul’s most recent composition, Piano Concerto No. 2, will premier with the BONJ in November 2016 at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey.
Please watch for announcements of Paul’s talks on Beethoven sonatas.
— By Trudie Grace